SACRAMENTO – Last week, Assembly Bill (AB) 971, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (DBakersfield), was signed into law. This bill will improve the state’s ability to evaluate IT projects and hold contractors accountable for factors including cost overruns and delays. Specifically, this bill requires state departments that contract for Information Technology (IT) services to conduct post evaluations for each major contract totaling $500,000 or more.
“AB 971 is an important step forward to provide much needed accountability and transparency with the state’s IT projects,” said Assemblymember Salas. “For too long, taxpayers have seen their money wasted with boondoggled IT projects that have been delayed by years or have gone millions of dollars over budget. With the passage of AB 971, we can effectively address these issues and hold contractors accountable to improve government services for all Californians.”
Every year, billions of dollars’ worth of goods and services are purchased through contracts by California state departments. Technology projects alone make up a significant portion of these contracts often totaling in the hundreds of millions for expansive Information Technology (IT) projects.
There is a long history of failed technology projects in California that have come in late and over budget. An example of one of these troubled projects is “The Financial Information System for California” or FI$CAL, a statewide accounting, budget, and cash management and procurement IT system. In June, the Legislature’s budget analyst stated that the costs for the project increased to nearly a billion dollars – more than six times its original estimate when it began in 2005.
AB 971 will create more accountability and transparency with state IT contracts by requiring departments to evaluate contractor performance with post-evaluations after a major project is completed.
This measure will become law on January 1, 2020.